To the Editor,

(“The irony of budget cuts and tuition increases,” Jan. 26, 2009) 

In his article on budget cuts, and tuition increases,  Matthew Jarzen, does an excellent job of summing up the opinion of many conservatives. I think he raises a few good points and articulates his arguments well. However, the positions that he takes and the persuasive techniques he uses to convey them reveal a shallowness of understanding.

Mr. Jarzen reduces the current crisis to an abstraction to avoid having to deal with the reality of what the governor’s plan would do to our community. He also draws a false analogy between taxes and tuition without acknowledging their disparate impacts on different demographic groups. Finally, he tries to justify the proposed cuts by pointing out that he himself managed to cope with financial difficulties as a student and that everyone just needs to “tighten their belts.”

My response to Mr. Jarzen’s arguments is as follows.

First, Governor Gibbons’ plan to gut the higher education system rather than raise taxes is far from a lofty political stance. It is the act of an arrogant and stubborn public official who is willing to carry out his policies regardless of reality (i.e. George W. Bush). The governor’s plan would destroy our system of higher education, decrease the long-term economic health of our community by dumbing down the workforce, and thereby reduce the growth of high-skill / high-paying industries in Las Vegas.

Second, there is a significant difference between taxes and tuition. Taxes are levied according to assets (i.e. property taxes) and income. Those who have more pay more. This is not an unjust system if one considers the fact that those who benefit the most from a community’s laws, infrastructure, and justice system ought to pay their share for its upkeep. Tuition, on the other hand, is levied against all students regardless of their financial circumstances. It thus places an incommensurate burden on those who have the least ability to pay. This result, when combined with significant reductions in financial aid, is patently unjust.

Third, I do not agree that students should simply work harder, pay higher tuition, and “tighten their belts” to compensate for the budget cuts. I myself worked three jobs (one of which was the opinion editor of The Rebel Yell) to help pay my own way through college and support my mother and little brother. Yet, the Millennium Scholarship, Pell Grant, and low tuition were essential in helping me survive. With financial aid drying up because of budget shortfalls at the state and federal level, it is now more important than ever to keep tuition low so that people like me, who come from low-income families and work multiple jobs to make ends meet, can still get a college education.

Nathan Sosa, 

Law School

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